New Row Coffee – London (UK)
A great place to refuel while wandering around Covent Gardens
On my second day in London I had a few work meetings for my real job (yes, it’s true), which took me to Leicester Square for the day. Traditionally, this is a massive tourist-trap hot spot. Luckily, nearby Covent Gardens is not all rip-offs and chains. The whole area has been undergoing somewhat of a small business revolution, which really brings some beautiful diversity to its cobbled streets. After concluding a business lunch at Byron Burgers, I dragged my Account Manager to New Row Coffee. “I neeeeeeeeeed a coffee, otherwise this afternoon’s meetings can’t go ahead!” I proclaimed. “Oh ok.”
Literally not much more than a hole in the wall, New Row Coffee sits on, you guessed it: New Row. Adam and I looked around for a moment while Nathan the Barista was prepping a drink for a waiting customer. “Gentlemen” he goes, “what can I do you for?” “Ehm, I’d love a Flat White please and … ?” “An Espresso please. Can I have it to go?” Adam asked. “Sorry, we don’t do take away Espresso. Espresso that sits in paper cubs goes really flat really fast so we only serve it in porcellain cups for drinking here.” “———————————-”
Adam turned to look at me with a massive question mark on his face. “But, I’ll drink it really fast.” “Well, then you can also just drink it here, it won’t be so hot anyway.” “Hm, ok then.” The whole conversation seemed pretty comical and I tried hard not to burst out laughing. Admittedly, I have never heard anyone say this before but I usually trust the better judgement of the Barista. Thus, there we stood drinking our coffee and watching the to and fro on New Row, which was packed with hipsters and school kids on day trips.
After my meetings had finished I popped back in to take some pictures and have a proper conversation with Nathan and his co-worker Federica, who despite trying her best, couldn’t quite hide her Italian roots.
New Row Coffee opened its doors about 2 years ago and is owned by an American guy called Tom, who has a lovely Schnauzer dog called Gabby. When Tom’s in, Gabby likes to sit in the corner and stare at customers. According to Nathan this can lead to some pretty amusing situations. Tom, who spent many years traveling, was looking for a place to settle down and venture into the coffee shop owning business. London seemed like a good place to start so he settled on the location where New Row Coffee is situated now. Since then he has also opened a second business called Freestate Coffee, which I didn’t manage to visit this time.
I asked Nathan if they had some up with a nice iced coffee for this summer heat, which he positively confirmed with a knowing smile. “Actually, what we offer is a shot of Espresso on the rocks with condensed milk. You need to give a good stir before you drink it. It’s really lovely.” Obviously I had to have one.
How did it taste? Have you ever been to Laos or Vietnam where they love drinking their coffee with a thick layer of condensed milk at the bottom of the cup? Well, I half expected it to be a bit like that but in truth it was much nicer. The sweetness of the condensed milk was not at all overpowering and the fact that it was iced made it really refreshing instead of making you feel like your teeth are being stripped of their enamel.
At New Row Coffee they have chosen Union Hand Roasted Coffee from across town to provide their Foundation blend for all Espresso based drinks. Filter coffees are made with single origins, sometimes also from Caravan Coffee, another prolific coffee roaster from King’s Cross.
Whether you’re only visiting London for a few days or actually live there, the likelyhood that you’ll orbit around Covent Gardens at some point or another is fairly high I should say. Yet, while Covent Gardens is amazing for clothes, shoes, food and going out it still lacks a serious selection of great places for coffee. New Row Coffee is a great place to pick up a quick afternoon Espresso and watch the crowds push by for a while. Just don’t ask to have it to go, coz that won’t happen honey.